2024 Dakar Rally: Cristina Gutierrez seizes the final day for Challenger win

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Credit: Marcelo Maragni/Red Bull Content Pool

Much like hitting a grand slam in the bottom of the ninth or the receiver catching the Hail Mary as time expires, Cristina Gutiérrez achieved the rally raid version of a walk-off: she entered the twelfth and final stage of the 2024 Dakar Rally trailing Mitch Guthrie by twenty-five minutes and seven seconds, and she walked away with the Bedouin trophy and 36:46 on Guthrie.

Guthrie, on the heels of losing the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship in the Challenger (formerly T3) class at the final round in October, had bad luck strike again at worst possible moment in Dakar. Shortly after starting the final leg, his car suddenly lost power when the turbocharger hose disconnected, causing his 25-minute gap on Gutiérrez to quickly evapourate. A gearbox failure in the closing thirty kilometres was the coup de grâce.

“We got towed to the finish so we still got second in the rally but it feels like last place with it going this way,” Guthrie commented. “Definitely sucks. Going to keep our heads high. That’s racing, but tough one to swallow.”

While Guthrie’s problems were certainly not what Gutiérrez expected, she was also not going to turn away when the door opened. By the end, she led a Red Bull-sponsored sweep of the top five and became the second woman to win a Dakar overall after Jutta Kleinschmidt won the 2001 race outright. She is also the first driver with both a Dakar win and an Extreme E championship, an overlap of series that includes nine others like Dakar Ultimate winner Carlos Sainz and third-placed Sébastien Loeb, who won the 2022 XE title alongside Gutiérrez.

It is also Gutiérrez’s first race win in the W2RC. Her last international rally raid victory, the 2021 Rally Kazakhstan, came in the series’ predecessor World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies en route to that year’s T3 title.

“Always, I try to fight until the finish,” said Gutiérrez. “We never knew what happened until the last kilometre. We pushed a lot in this stage because I knew that twenty-five minutes is a lot, but if something happened behind, you did never know. I knew here in the finish. I don’t know what happened, what is going to happen, but I’m very glad.”

Despite settling for second, Guthrie still exits Dakar as the W2RC leader as Gutiérrez is not registered for the championship.

Gutiérrez and Guthrie led a masterclass for the Taurus T3 Max, a joint collaboration between MCE-5 Development and Wevers Sport that won nine of twelve stages. Eryk Goczał claimed five of the first six stages until he and his uncle Michał Goczał were disqualified for using clutches made from composite materials; father Marek Goczał won Stage #1 but was forced to retire six stages later. The penalty allowed Guthrie to inherit the overall lead for much of the rally’s second half before losing it on the last day. The final four days were split by Taurus drivers Nicolás Cavigliasso and Marcelo Gastaldi.

The Challenger class is often dominated by Can-Am, but Taurus’ breakout meant they went from winning seven stages in 2023 to just one a year later courtesy of Francisco López Contardo. Rokas Baciuška, the reigning W2RC SSV champion, was the lead Can-Am in the overall in third ahead of López. Gutiérrez was previously with Can-Am before joining Taurus for 2024. 2023 Dakar winner Austin Jones was fifth.

Saleh Al-Saif won a stage for Overdrive’s OT3. WRC veteran Kris Meeke claimed the Prologue with the manufacturer but retired after a crash with Krzysztof Hołowczyc in the Chrono Stage destroyed his rollcage.

After winning two stages in 2023 including a podium sweep at one point, X-raid Yamaha struggled with mechanical issues at the start that quickly knocked them out of contention. Ignacio Casale assumed the Stage #4 win following Goczał’s disqualification, but elected to sit out the second half of the rally.

Lukas Lauda, son of F1 legend Niki Lauda, finished fifteenth in his Dakar début.

Challenger overall results

1306Cristina Gutiérrez*Pablo Moreno HueteRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team53:59:47Leader
2303Mitch GuthrieKellon WalchRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team54:36:33+ 36:46
3300Rokas BaciuškaOriol VidalRed Bull Can-Am Factory Racing54:58:34+ 58:47
4301Francisco López Contardo*Juan Pablo LatrachRed Bull Can-Am Factory Racing55:11:07+ 1:11:20
5305Austin JonesGustavo GugelminRed Bull Off-Road Junior Team55:44:34+ 1:44:47
6311Saleh Al-Saif*Nasser Al-KuwariDark Horse Team57:11:14+ 3:11:27
7318Marcelo GastaldiCarlos SachsBBR Motorsport57:53:35+ 3:53:48
8315Ricardo PorémAugusto SanzMMP Compétition58:46:29+ 4:46:42
9312Nicolás CavigliassoValentina PertegariniWevers Sport60:36:06+ 6:36:19
10336Paul Spierings*Jan Pieter van der SteltDakar Team Spierings RaceArt61:38:22+ 7:38:35
11338Oscar Santos Peralta*Lourival RoldanSouth Racing Can-Am64:32:45+ 10:32:58
12324Pedro Peñate Muñoz*Rosa Romero FontTH-Trucks Team64:50:39+ 10:50:52
13337João Monteiro*Nuno MoraisSouth Racing Can-Am65:55:53+ 11:56:06
14327Christophe Cresp*Jean BrucyMMP Compétition66:47:53+ 12:48:06
15347Lukas Lauda*Stefan HenkenSouth Racing Can-Am67:18:33+ 13:18:46
16340Oscar Ral Verdu*Xavier BlancoBuggy Masters Team68:37:45+ 14:37:58
17322Claudie Tanghe*Kevin TangheGRallyTeam69:29:34+ 15:29:47
18325Xavier Foj*Antonio AnguloFoj Motorsport74:08:25+ 20:08:38
19321Annett Quandt*Annie SeelX-raid Yamaha Supported Team76:15:30+ 22:15:43
20339Gert-Jan Van Der Valk*Branco de LangeArcane Racing90:01:09+ 36:01:22
21332Javier Vélez*Gaston Ariel MattaruccoFN Speed Team97:20:44+ 43:20:57
22343Gunter Hinkelmann*Fabrizio BianchiniBBR Motorsport97:20:56+ 43:21:09
23369Jeffrey Otten*Olaf HarmsenGaia Motorsports99:10:11+ 45:10:24
24333Benjamin Lattard*Patrick JimbertMMP Compétition100:28:33+ 46:28:46
25317Mário FrancoDaniel JordãoFranco Sport107:46:32+ 53:46:45
26326Glenn Brinkman*Dale MoscattPH Sport122:13:23+ 68:13:36
27329Dania AkeelStéphane DupléWevers Sport133:41:27+ 79:41:40
28308David ZilleSebastian CesanaSouth Racing Can-Am135:01:17+ 81:01:30
DNF304Marek GoczałMaciej MartonEnergyLandia Rally TeamDNFN/A
DNF309Ignacio Casale*Álvaro LeonX-raid Yamaha Supported TeamDNFN/A
DNF314Kris Meeke*Wouter RosegaarGRallyTeamDNFN/A
DNF330Jordi Segura*Sergi BruguéFN Speed TeamDNFN/A
DNF331Khalid Aljafla*Andrei RudnitskiAljafla RacingDNFN/A
DNF334Pál Lónyai*Filippo IppolitoX-raid Yamaha Supported TeamDNFN/A
DNF345Freddy Fast*Alexander TorilSouth Racing Can-AmDNFN/A
DNF346Manuel Plaza Pérez*Marta Plaza VázquezSodicars RacingDNFN/A
DNF349Antonio Garcia Coma*Aran Sol I JuanolaASM MotorsportDNFN/A
DNF350Roger Grouwels*Ronald van NederpeltDakar Team Spierings RaceArtDNFN/A
DNF351Edwin Opstelten*Henny van KouwenGaia MotorsportsDNFN/A
DNF352Alexander Peters*Wouter de GraaffArcane RacingDNFN/A
DSQ302Eryk GoczałOriol MenaEnergyLandia Rally TeamDSQN/A
DSQ310Michał GoczałSzymon GospodarczykEnergyLandia Rally TeamDSQN/A
* – Not competing in World Rally-Raid Championship

Challenger stage winners

PrologueKris Meeke*17:55.9
Stage #1Marek Goczał5:21:56
Stage #2Mitch Guthrie4:28:17
Stage #3Mitch Guthrie4:39:08
Stage #4Ignacio Casale*3:12:30
Stage #5Francisco López Contardo*1:40:47
Stage #6Cristina Gutiérrez*8:09:40
Stage #7Mitch Guthrie5:35:09
Stage #8Saleh Al-Saif*3:35:28
Stage #9Nicolás Cavigliasso4:47:58
Stage #10Marcelo Gastaldi3:44:13
Stage #11Nicolás Cavigliasso5:19:13
Stage #12Marcelo Gastaldi1:55:22

W2RC Challenger standings

For readability, competitors registered for the championship who have yet to earn points are not listed.

Drivers’ standings

1Mitch Guthrie85Leader
2Rokas Baciuška68– 17
3Marcelo Gastaldi52– 33
4Nicolás Cavigliasso50– 35
5Austin Jones48– 37
6Ricardo Porém32– 53
7Dania Akeel22– 63
8Mario Franco20– 65
9David Zille19– 66

Co-drivers’ standings

1Kellon Walch85Leader
2Oriol Vidal68– 17
3Carlos Sachs52– 33
4Valentina Pertegarini50– 35
5Gustavo Gugelmin48– 37
6Augusto Sanz32– 53
7Stéphane Duplé22– 63
8Daniel Jordao20– 65
9Sebastian Cesana19– 66
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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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